Relay Earns Top Marks for New Teacher Diversity and Student Success in Tennessee

May 30, 2023
Teacher Preparation
Equity-Centered Practices
Relay Graduate School of Education

Amid persistent teacher shortages throughout the nation, Relay Graduate School of Education has earned top marks for producing some of the most effective new educators in the state.

Tennessee’s annual report card recently revealed that Relay ranks first among the state’s educator prep programs (EPP) in the percentage of teachers whose students exceeded growth expectations.

According to data supplied by the Tennessee Department of Education, 45% of Relay Nashville and 44% of Relay Memphis’ 2019-2021 cohort exceeded expected levels of student growth. Both figures are approximately 20 percentage points higher than the state average (24%) and 4 percentage points higher than the next most-effective EPP (40%).  

“Our district partners set a high bar for excellence, and Relay will continue to develop educators and leaders who exceed that standard,” said Arik Shur, Relay Managing Director of Partnerships in Tennessee. “We’re proud to be developing teachers who provide their students with the academic and holistic supports they need.”

Relay is also working to increase the number of teachers of color in Tennessee’s classrooms.

Per the state’s report card, Relay is the third-highest producer of BIPOC teachers in the state. Additionally, Relay Memphis’s 2019-21 cohort had the highest proportion of BIPOC graduates in the state (84%).

“Relay gave me the courage to teach,” said Rochelle Solomon, a second-year Relay resident who teaches special education at Avon Lenox High School in Memphis. Solomon, a Black educator, said she continues to use the knowledge and tools she acquired from Relay on a daily basis. “I still use the Relay lesson plan template because it’s so comprehensive. I want to make sure my students are getting everything they need, and Relay has given me the resources to do that.”

Hear from Ms. Rochelle Solomon and Ms. Jerelyn Carmichael highlighted on ABC24 Memphis, as they discuss what helps them the most as teachers:

Click on the image above to watch the video

Relay teachers like Rochelle are having an important impact on Tennessee’s students. The organization’s partners include Tennessee’s three largest school districts — Memphis- Shelby County Schools, Metro Nashville Schools, and Knox County Schools — as well as the state’s largest charter school networks.

Relay has given specific focus to evidence-based reading instruction. This is particularly important given a recent change in Tennessee law that requires third graders who are not proficient in reading to attend summer reading camp or a tutoring program or repeat the grade.

“Our work remains vitally important, as we continue to address the trauma caused by the pandemic and prepare for a new reading retention law that will challenge our state’s third graders,” Shur added.

In third-grade ELA, 42% of Relay Memphis teachers had above average effectiveness compared to 27% across the state. “Relay has given me the confidence needed to be an effective and enthusiastic educator,” said Ana Stanowick, a second year Relay resident in Memphis. “Enforcing strong literacy curriculum is of the utmost importance, now more than ever. I’m grateful to have been given the tools to elevate reading instruction and proud to serve this role.”

Overall, Tennessee’s annual report card reveals that Relay is successfully addressing the need for diverse and impactful educators.

Relay Graduate School of Education

Relay Graduate School of Education is an accredited not-for-profit institution of higher education serving thousands of teachers and education leaders across the country. Our mission is to ensure that all students are taught by excellent educators, to build a more just world where every student has a clear path to a fulfilling life.


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